Monday, December 30, 2013

Reverb 13: Day 30. Relationship management....

The prompt:
Relationships | Did you find a new best friend?  Delve deeper into a relationship?  Break up?  Get back together?  Tell us about who you added - or subtracted - from your life.  Why?

I think the word for relationships this year was DEEPEN.  
I am blessed with some wonderful women friends who are supportive and loving and loyal, and I felt that our relationships continued this year to grow in depth and feeling.  
I learned that there are some kind, caring people around me, not necessarily close friends, but I was touched by their help and concern for me in more than one situation. I intend to pay that forward.
A few others went to a back burner, although I don't doubt that there is still a strong support and connection, but life circumstances for all of us reduced our contact with each other.  
And there were a few beginnings of new friendships that I hope will grow in 2014. 
I did give myself permission to walk away from any situation or person who causes my gut to feel tense or uncertain, or when my spidey-sense tells me to leave it. I used that several times, and noted how I felt when I knew I would see a person or be in a situation that has not gone well in the past. If I felt anxious, I left it. Good for me.

Reverb 13: Day 29: a Gratitude List

The prompt:
 List it | List posts are everywhere.  Top 10 Ways to be Happier TodayThree Tips for More Energy.  Seven Ideas to Stay Focused.  Give us a list.  Of anything.  Your to-do list for the day.  Your grocery list.  A Buzzfeed inspired list.  Anything.
I am grateful for:
My husband. My wonderful home. Kitties who sit in my lap and crave petting, kitties who wind around my legs outside and crave attention, kitties who come when we call them and are so happy to see us. Kitties anywhere, actually, but especially my kitties. Friends who love me and tell me so. Friends who know my quirks and warts and love me anyway. Rain...although I really wish we'd get some. The multitude of trees that lose leaves in the fall and winter and always sprout new, brilliantly green ones in the spring. The odd daffodils that pop up in places I planted them long ago. Food in my refrigerator and pantry, and the wide variety of grocery options we have in our stores. A car that runs and enough money for gas to take me wherever I want to go. Enough of everything. A body that has some aches and pains but that works pretty well and is, far as I know, free from serious disease. My hair -- beautiful greys and silvers intermingled with a few dark strands still, all natural, and in a great cut for its texture....I love how it looks and feels. I love how *I* look and feel most of the time, and what a gift that is! Medicare, which allows me to get the medical attention I need at reasonable cost, finally (even though it does need some tweaking, mind you). Social Security, and the Congress had better keep its greedy, selfish, conniving fingers out of that.  My husband, yes, again...always many gratitude prayers for him! My daughters and grandchildren (even though my grey hair and stress comes largely from worries about them). My eyes that can still read, ears that can still hear, mouth that can still speak words. Joys, especially unexpected ones. Opportunities to learn and connect and grow. Kindness in any form, from any source. Laughter. Television -- okay, I know, but I like my shows! The arts -- all of 'em, and the opportunity to share them with others. Dedicated people who make things happen. Honesty. Loyalty. The birds who come to our feeders and delight our souls every day. The new angel chimes that sit high in our great room and make me feel blessed when they peal their delicate sound. Clean sheets and warm beds. A fire in the wood stove. Soup bubbling in the crock pot and perfuming the air. My husband (yep. Again. He is the light of my life.) Electricity that brings light and power to our world. Internet access and that incredible, endless library that awaits me with a click on a screen. 
You get the idea. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

Reverb 13: Day 28. Tears, tears, tears....

The prompt:
Cry it out | What moment in 2013 brought tears to your eyes?  Are you usually a crier?  Or did tearing up take you by surprise?
 Lordy, when didn't I cry this year!
I've written before about the 'leaky face syndrome' that I share with many other family members. As I get older, it gets worse. That means I puddle up at those email or Facebook stories that are meant to touch your heart, at Hallmark card or the Budweiser Clydesdale commercials on tv, at various television shows and movies and plays and performances, at kindness towards me or my family or feelings of gratitude -- actually, I can puddle up just sitting in my chair.
I puddle when I see old friends again, like my dear girlfriend Julie who visited her in November and it was like we'd never been apart. I puddle when my husband does sweet things for me, every single day. I puddle when I think of how very blessed I am and how grateful I am to 
I just had a phone call from someone who is trying to help my daughter get out of her situation, someone within the system who has recruited other people to help too, and I had to work to keep a huge quaver out of my voice (failed at that) and not to break down in tears. I have held back many tears this year, partly because I feel like if I start that cycle of fear and anger and loss and worry that I won't stop for days.  I can work up a pretty good head of irrational steam just thinking about all the what-ifs and shoulda-coulda-wouldas in that situation, and that's when I need to stop and let the angels have the worry and fear and projection because it's not something I can do a thing about, not really. R has to drive that bus, not me.

So anyway, yes. I am a crier. I am a puddler. I am surprised when I DON'T puddle up at things kind and loving and sentimental and touching. 

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Reverb 13: Day 27: Laughter

The prompt:
Pee your pants funny | What was the funniest thing that happened this year?  Was it funny when it happened?  Or was it one of those things you laughed about later?

Okay, maybe I'm just getting old, but I don't remember the funniest thing that happened this year.
There HAVE been some moments that were hilarious, but I don't even remember the exact situations! When we are with friends and neighbors T&G, there almost is always at least one zinger that makes us all guffaw. Part of that is familiarity: we know them well and they know us, and we trade barbs and puns and snappy comebacks easily when we're together. It is good to have friends like them to laugh with.
I know there have been some funny moments with my girlfriends too, but again, I don't remember specific incidents. These are the women with whom I can cry AND laugh, sometimes within a few minutes, and I am grateful for this kind of friendship. They love me warts and all, and I love them back. You know who you are -- L and J and M and M and D and L especially. 
 Tony and I laugh often too: just this morning we watched as our outdoor tiger cat Harry Potter had a close encounter with a fairly large buck who was very curious about the rotund animal under the tree. As the buck drew closer, Harry jumped, the buck jumped, and Harry moved faster than I've seen him waddle in some time. It's not the first time we've watched a cat and a deer meet, though -- long ago our Jazzy cat and a young deer touched noses and then both levitated a couple of feet into the air with surprise. We were watching from inside and laughed like fools as both animals raced in opposite directions.

Reverb 13: Day 26: Remembering

The prompt:
Five Moments | Tell us about five moments you don't want to forget from 2013.

There are a lot more moments I don't like to remember than those I do. 
I've written already about a few that I loved: going to our favorite Bandon beach on our anniversary, having a fantastic lunch in Seattle with our daughter and grandkids. Any time  we are on the coast by the ocean: there was a wonderful full moon we experienced on the beach in Charleston, OR, in September, and all those lovely hours we spent on beaches at Point Reyes in November. Being in our great room with a wood stove fire and my honey and the kitties. 
But there have been some that have been full of fear and anxiety and worry and grief and anger, and I would just as soon not remember those. 

I want good memorable moments in 2014, not the other kind.

Friday, December 27, 2013

Reverb 13: Day 25. Wanting something

The prompt:
Covet | What did you covet this year?  Are you working towards getting that or just admiring it from afar?  Is it a tangible thing or just an idea?  Tell us about what you've got your sights on.
 When I first read this prompt, I began thinking of material things, especially since Christmas is here and the focus is all about gifts under the tree. But for the most part, at this point in our lives, when we want something, we get it -- okay, maybe not EVERYthing, but things for the house, for us, for the cats. 
That's why my parents were so hard to buy for -- because they bought what they wanted or needed, pretty much. That's why we have trouble thinking of gifts we want., much less need.
And yes, I know how extremely fortunate we are to even be able to say that.
We are not extravagant people, however. We live simple lives and have never spent money we didn't have to get the shiny object we coveted at the time.  If we won the lottery -- and you gotta buy the ticket first, which I don't do because I never think of it -- I would certainly enjoy spending money, but much of it would be for other people. Oh, I'm sure I could think of a few things....but not out of NEED. 
What I covet can't be bought. 
I want my daughters to be in healthy, loving, supportive relationships, with enough money to take care of their needs, without drama from ex-spouses or boyfriends. I want good, solid physical and mental health for them (and for us). I want to have relationships with my children and grandchildren that are fun, loving, friendly, and healthy. I don't want to worry about their choices and their safety and their living situations.
If you have such a relationship with your children or your parents, be grateful ALL. THE. TIME. 
I am grateful for what we DO have and know that relationships take work and love and kindness.  Maybe we'll get there yet.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Reverb 13: Day 24: Driving me crazy

The prompt:
Crazy | What one little thing drove you crazy this year?  Was it unique to this past year or has it been buggin' you for a while?  How do you intend to get rid of it or resolve it in 2014?
 Actually, I tend to be pretty mellow about stuff like that, I think, in general. If something bugs me a lot, I change whatever is keeping me in contact with it, if possible. 

The financial gatekeeping for my daughter's finances got REALLY old this year, though, as she spun into a fairly destructive cycle with her boyfriend, and I am so glad to be out of that. The new payee is an agency and will not be emotionally involved. Ultimately her decisions about how to manage her money are hers, not mine, and it won't follow me into 2014, although a new kind of relationship with her will.

Something far, far more trivial and recent is that awful commercial on TV for Charter, where the stupid sexy angel-babes sing the phone number over and over again. I mute it. Tony laughs. I hate it. I wouldn't order the service based on nothing more than that obnoxious commercial.

Reverb 13: Day 23 -- The race of life

The prompt: The race set out for you | Tell us about how you've been running along in 2013 and the race(s) you intend to run in 2014.  These can be literal races or just the road of life.  What did your path look like this year, and are you choosing the same for 2014?
 Not. A. Runner.
 My path was one of recovery on several levels this year, and I tend to meander and stop along the way rather than sticking strictly to the path.  That can mean delays in getting where I intend to go, and sometimes those are helpful. I always get there eventually.
I have always been that way, actually. In my various jobs throughout my career, I did best when I was given or chose a direction and then allowed -- even encouraged -- to make it happen on my own. I knew where to find resources to help, but I ran the show.  I don't do well with micro-management. I suppose my theme song could well be Sinatra's "I Did it Myyyyyyyy Wayyyyyyy."
My path for 2014 is to figure out where I want to go and what I truly want to be doing. I don't have a surgical recovery looming, I am out of financial responsibility for my daughter, and I am so aware that life can be fragile. So what do I want to study? Where do I want to go? Is there a cause that is calling me? I get to read and sample and maybe take steps down several paths to find out!

Reverb 13, Day 22: A bonus and uphill battles

The first Reverb13 prompts have come to an end, but the talented and marvelous Kat McNally has given us all a fabulous list of bonus resources. I'll be checking them out and hope to participate in several of these opportunities.

One such program is from Writing Our Way Home, the Mindful Writing Challenge. I had the great fortune to win a class from Satya Robyn and learned so much from her and my classmates. Try your hand at writing small stones -- it is not easy!

Project Reverb is still going, and here is today's prompt:
Uphill | What uphill battle did you keep fighting and fighting in 2013?  Are you going to keep fighting or let it go?  Why?

My uphill battle has been centered around handling my daughter's finances and trying to be a gatekeeper and watchdog for her best interests. Because of her illness and her life choices, this has been so hard to see and do. Her boundaries are flimsy at best and she allows people into her life to try to 'help' them, and then her own situation becomes precarious and harmful. She is intelligent and generous, but she does not seem to be able to determine who is 'good' and who is 'bad.'

After more than a year of gradually setting stronger boundaries and working hard on separating my feelings from my understanding that mine is the only life I can save, I got out of the payee responsibilities and almost instantly felt better in every way.

I expect that I will continue to battle my need to step in and 'fix' things (which is impossible) in 2014, especially when I see her making choices that are not going to turn out well for her. So far I have managed to curtail my usual lecture to a one or two sentence opinion, and sparingly at that. I fight my tendency to personalize her situation to what *I* would think and feel. I am not her. She is not me. My life is the only one I can change. 

Monday, December 23, 2013

Reverb 13: Day 21.

1. Today, I'd like you to revisit what you wrote on 1 December on the first day of Reverb13. How does that compare to where you are now? 
Then, without thinking too hard about it, grab a pen and some paper and finish the following five sentences: 
2014 is going to be MY YEAR because...
In 2014, I am going to do...
In 2014, I am going to feel...
In 2014, I am not going to...
In December 2014, I am going to look back and say...
  For bonus points, if you participated in #reverb12, compare your answers to the ones you wrote this time last year. What has been revealled? Where are the surprises?

2. Encounters | What thing did you keep encountering this year over and over again?  Was it something you learned from or just a strange coincidence?

 1. Eh. I'm pretty much right where I was 23 days ago. That's not a bad thing. What I hope is that NEXT year on Dec. 1 that I have moved ahead.

2014 is going to be my year because I've addressed the health stuff that this year has been all about, and I am more aware than ever before that this is MY life and if I don't make the absolute most of it, it's all my fault.

In 2014 I am going to do a lot more things that make me happy and hang with people who I like and will not be driven by guilt or obligation.

In 2014 I am going to feel HEALTHY because I will get my butt to the gym and improve stability and endurance. I am going to feel HAPPY because I am loved, I have enough, and I am so, so blessed.

In 2014 I am not going to allow anything to take my focus off my own life and well-being. I cannot save anyone else. I cannot fix anyone else. I can only live the best life I can.

In December 2014 I am going to look back and say WOW! That was SO FUN. Let's do MORE!

I did not do Reverb 12 because I was preparing for surgery and working on my energy. But this year has been one of recovery and healing from where I was last year, no doubt about that.

2. This year was a huge year for setting boundaries and sticking to them, and finally understanding that the only life I have any real control over is my own. And then I took that control and relinquished the financial reins for my daughter's disability. YES. No strange coincidence here. I worked HARD at it and at developing positive energy for ME.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Reverb 13: Day 20: Looking forward with gratitude

1.Forward is the only direction.
The mirror never lies, but everything in it is backwards. 
Look at what you see in the mirror. How does it change if you view yourself with eyes that can only look forward?
2. Gratitude | How did you show gratitude this year?  Did you keep a gratitude journal?  How do you want gratitude to play a role in your life in 2014?
1.  GAH. I've been thinking about this prompt for several days now, and I'm really not sure what to write. I'm pretty good at staying in the moment or moving forward with most things -- this time of year being a big exception -- and that forward-looking visage actually looks pretty good to me most of the time. Yeah, it's not what I looked at 30 years ago;  actually it's better in all the ways that really matter. I want to see what is there in the mirror TODAY, now, and be grateful for that, looking neither forward nor backwards. We know what has been; we don't know what the next moment may bring to us, so I want to cherish and love what I see in THIS moment. 
Yes, at this time of year, I do remember Christmases past and people who are no longer on this earth who I miss and love. I remember traditions and rituals we had that are no longer part of our observance, because the cast of characters and the settings have changed, and many are not relevant nor meaningful any longer. That doesn't mean I don't look forward; it just means that memory remains, probably clouded somewhat with mists of cookies and peppermint and pine and laughter, but that's not bad either. 
Today I am grateful that I can still see my image, that I am happy and loved, that I have enough of everything to sustain me. One day at a time. How does it get better than that?
2. I've spoken of gratitude in other posts; it has been a dominant theme for me this year. I started a gratitude journal, yes, but actually say gratitude prayers multiple times every day. And this year I found Anne Lamott's book "Help. Thanks. Wow. The Three Essential Prayers" to be an inspiring and touching meditation that I have re-read often -- it is often the book I open when I'm settled in bed at night. "Thanks" is a prayer that I say so many times daily, for so many reasons, and expect that to continue in 2014 with new ways to show gratitude.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Reverb 13: Day 19-- Practicing compassion and quiet

1. The Buddha said, “You, yourself, as much as anybody else in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection.” In the past year, I have been on a mission to understand and practice self-compassion, which is sometimes defined as "extending compassion to one's self in instances of perceived inadequacy, failure, or general suffering," and what I have learned has made me realize that this practice is at the heart of everything. 
How will you practice self-compassion?
2. Personality | Were you an extrovert or an introvert this year?  Why?  Is that normal for you?  Or a switch from previous years?

1. This is hard for me -- and, I suspect, for many. I am far, far harder on myself than anyone else could possibly be, and that little judge in my head who comments  on my shortcomings can be a big pain-in-the-ass. 
He's gotten quieter, however, and I try not to listen to his rantings, but it takes work. One way I learned to practice self-compassion this year is by looking into a mirror and focusing on my left eye, and saying, "I love you, Beth..." several times. I know how corny that sounds...but it works. Warts and all, I tell myself that I am loved. It helps to practice active gratitude for loving friends and family who accept you as you are. It helps to say gratitude prayers to the wide beautiful sky and sun and moon and trees, and to ask the angels to help, to stand by you, to wrap you up in their love. 
When you love yourself and are not actively judging your perceived shortcomings, you are free to practice kindness and compassion to others as well. And that helps everyone.
2. My Myers-Briggs result has long been INFP. That I score can come very close to an E score, depending on what I am involved in and actively doing -- especially when I was in jobs that required a great deal of social interaction.  But I always needed the down time, the contemplation and solitude and quiet, especially after actively being engaged with groups.
By nature  I am an introvert, and definitely was one this year as I spent long hours sitting in a recliner with my foot up, reading or thinking or knitting or watching television or talking with my honey, who also is an introvert. Our camping trips were quiet times, mostly, with the two of us and the kitties sharing our little trailer and reading or napping or talking or enjoying the scenery where we were camping.  I don't see this changing much in 2014.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Reverb 13: Day 18: Finding peace in my tattered nightie

1. I am often surprised where I find peace, it is usually in the midst of chaos.

In the midst of living, did you find moments to breathe? Were there moments that held you in the embrace of peace and quiet and pure contentment? 

Did these moments catch you by surprise or did you create the space for peace to find you?

And how will you make space for greater peace in 2014? Because it’s hard to imagine anything more important.

2. Wear it out | What piece of clothing did you wear again and again all through out the year?  Why?  Is it all worn out?  Are you going to replace it or keep wearing it?

1. Peace.  Yes, I've had moments this year of that pure contentment and peace, most often, as I've said already, in our great room with a glowing fire, kitties on their tuffets, and my love and I watching a movie or a show. I've had moments like that at the ocean too, when I'm just there, watching endless waves rolling from that deep, ancient heart of the world. I am so grateful when these happen. While they don't exactly catch me by surprise, they also don't occur every time I'm at the ocean or sitting in the great room.  
I try to make time to breathe, to just BE, but even that doesn't necessarily mean that I will feel at peace. Sometimes you just have to be with the inner turmoil, the constant underlying worry that is there about my daughter.  And then make the choice to let it go, as much as is possible at least. 
Greater peace in 2014: yes to that. Addressing the things that cause the most worry will help make that possible, and I'm doing that.  Actively cultivating meditation time will also help, and I have a plan for that as well. More peace, more things that I love to do, more ocean, more travel, less stress. Peace.
2.  I had to think about this one. Certainly I have favorite jeans and a few tee shirts that moved with me from Alabama to California in 1997 and which I still wear for 'comfy' clothes. But the one that I haven't quite yet been able to cut up for rags is a lovely pink and white long sleeved knit nightie, a Miss Elaine, that I don't remember when I bought. I wear it so much that the print is faded, the fabric is thin and almost silken, but there are a few holes here and there that are beyond mending. It's time for it to go, however, and I will seek a replacement at the after-Christmas sales.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Reverb 13, Day 17: My word; my habits

1. What word did you select to be your travelling companion in 2013? What gifts did this word bring?
 What word will you choose to guide you through 2014? What do you hope it will bring into your life?
2. 30 days | They say it takes 30 days to make or break a habit.  What did you start?  What did you quit?

1. The word for 2013 was clearly Recovery.  I suppose I chose it through the decision to have the surgery at the tail end of December, knowing that at the least the first four or five months of the year would be devoted to healing and rehabilitation, but it was not a ritualistic choice as I have done in a few past years, choosing three or four from among many words to guide me in the new year.
The word brought just that, but with it were blessings I have outlined elsewhere on these pages -- BEing instead of DOing, silence and stillness, easy conversations, humbling gifts of friendship, and accepting help in so many other ways. As the year continued and I was no longer walking with a cane, I found recovery in setting healthy boundaries for myself as well. 
I will choose a word(s) at the end of this year to guide me through 2014. I want to choose more things that make me happy. I want to focus more on what is right in front of me and less on projecting possible (and unlikely) outcomes to issues and fears. The words will find me.
2. The habit I began was regular visits to the gym for rehab on my foot, and then continuing after the prescribed visits were finished. It was a good one. And I quit going when the outside temperatures here exceeded 112, which is just too hot to do anything, including getting into a car and driving to an air-conditioned gym. And then we were traveling for several weeks at a couple of different times, further screwing regular visits to the gym or to yoga.
I will do this again. It needs to be a part of my routine for my own sake, for my health and well-being and safety. 

Reverb 13, Day 16:

1. Habits and addictions, some are silly, some serious; when we have issues without answers, they can hold us so tight that we stop moving forward with the life we intended.
Were you able to loosen those fetters this year, and if you were successful, how did you manage it? Did you accept outside help, or work alone?
If you still feel that grasp of addiction or hurtful habits, what will you do differently in the year to come?
2. 1,000 Words | There's the old saying that a photo is worth 1,000 words.  Give us a photo with that impact that sums up some significant even of your 2013, or give us 1,000 words about a pivotal moment in 2013.

1.  While I have issues without answers, I suppose, I don't really classify them as 'addictions' or 'habits.'  I am no stranger to either, mind you, but they also are old, old news.

I have indeed taken steps in 2013 to address things that have occupied far more mind time than I really want to spend thinking about them, and will continue that process into 2014.  

For those who are battling addiction to anything, get help. A 12-step program is available for just about any possible issue these days, especially in California where everyone has a 12-step story. And it works as long as you work it.

2. This is not my photo, but I have an xray that looks almost identical. My triple arthrodesis recovery was probably the most significant event this year for me. Yay! It's good!


Monday, December 16, 2013

Reverb 13, Day 15: Senses and my tether

1. Give us a sensory tour of 2013. How would you describe the year that’s passing in terms of: 
2. Anchor | What kept you tethered in 2013?

1.  Ocean. Ocean. Ocean. We spent long hours multiple times by Mama Ocean this year, and I can close my eyes and see the sun sparkling on the waves that are rolling into the wide sand beach, hear the crashing collision of water with land and the gulls squabbling over a morsel, smell the slightly fishy, moist, salty air that is so distinctly coastal. In a few spots, sea lions barked their conversations as they hoisted glistening, fat bodies onto barnacled rocks or warm spots on the sand. More than once the coast was shrouded in damp grey fog, parting now and then with a gust of wind to show us the chill grey sea but muffling the incoming swooshing waves to mere whispers as they met land. At the docks, the fishy scent intensified and so did the gulls' cries as they sparred for fish parts from boats or fishermen who were cleaning their catches. 
We are  blessed every day to see our rolling hills and oak trees stretch out from our windows, and to hear the finches twitter as they devour thistle seed at the feeders or the hummingbirds' distinctive squeaky chirp high in the trees, or the cry of a roving hawk on the prowl for dinner.  We see the ocean far less often, but her sights and smells and sounds remain for me the most memorable.
Taste is more difficult to narrow for the year. I savor my morning cup of coffee, a hearty Black Tiger. But I also love the anticipation of an afternoon cup of elegant Earl Grey, or the magical Tulsi Rose tea. The gooshy sweet of browned marshmallow topped with sweet Hershey's milk chocolate on a freshly opened stack of graham crackers tells me we're camping and enjoying a fire -- that's pretty much the only time I eat s'mores. When I slow down and practice eating meditatively, every taste becomes a new experience -- but I don't do that even daily. Maybe more of that in 2014.
Touch: my favorite is always kitty fur, grey or white or ginger or yellow or calico -- but I also love to touch my husband and usually sleep with one hand touching him. His warmth and steady breathing comfort and ground me. I spent a lot of time sitting this year because of my foot, and I had a warm cat in my lap much of that time. Even now, McMurphy usually finds my lap when I sit down first thing in the morning to sip coffee and check email, and I love feeling his weight, his warmth, and his soft fur.
2. My tether is my husband, my dear soul mate. He pulls me back into the here and now when my fears and imagination take me way out into the ozone, he listens to me figure out a problem and will offer his perspective gently and calmly. He tells me every day that I am dearly and deeply loved, and how lucky he feels -- and I tell him the same. He was the steady constant caretaker as I recovered from surgery this year, doing all my chores as well as his own and never once complaining. He still fixes us breakfast every morning and cleans up the dishes after meals. He tends our finances carefully and promptly. He is an avid reader of news, blogs, magazines, and books, and conversation with him is always interesting and easy. We take good care of each other, but both of us feel like we are the luckiest one in our relationship -- and what an incredible gift that is! The day we met was the best day of my life, and I am constantly grateful for his constancy and deep love for me. How blessed we are!

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Reverb 13: Day 14...Best decision and best meal

1. What was the best decision you made in 2013? What were the results? How will you continue the good work in 2014?

2. Feast | What was the best meal you had in 2013?  Was it slurped standing over the kitchen counter?  Was the menu written in a language you understood?  Were you alone?  Or at a table filled with family and friends?
 1. I've pretty much answered this in roundabout ways under slightly different prompts. The best, the hardest, the most far-reaching decision I made this year was to stop being the representative payee for my daughter. It was a difficult decision involving a bunch of emotions and guilts and fears, but both of us will be better served and our relationship will evolve to a different place because of it.  That's the short answer. How it plays out for her in 2014 remains to be seen, but it was the right choice for me.
2. The best meals are eaten in the company of someone you love, and we've eaten some good ones. The very best meal this year wasn't so much about the food as it was the company. 
We were in Seattle visiting our daughter and her family, and after going on a shoe shopping trip for the kids and both parents in the morning, all eight of us went to  the Ram Restaurant and Brewery in the Kent Station mall. With four kids from age 5 to 13, eating out anywhere is pretty rare, and while both parents work hard, they often struggle to make ends meet. The Ram is not a super fancy restaurant but has a good selection of gourmet burgers and upscale sandwiches in addition to other menu items, and is a mini-brewery -- a really nice atmosphere, and one they had never experienced.
Watching the kids read the menu and the ensuing discussion about this burger versus that one, and the final choices was So. Much. Fun. But when we were served, we watched the eyes of the two older boys (11 and 13) get big as saucers: the burgers were practically as big as their heads.  They dug into those burgers and steak fries with gusto, commenting often on how good it tasted, how it was such a cool thing to do, and slowly they ate nearly everything on their plates. The 5 and 10 year olds were also chowing down, but their mom had helped them order items that were more appropriate to their appetite levels. And we could not have asked for more perfect manners from any of them.
I don't even remember what I ordered, although I remember everything was really good. When everyone had finally finished, the boys had a sizeable pile of fries left that they wanted to take home. But the two youngest had a complementary dessert with their kiddo meals, so we all consulted a dessert menu -- yes, even the two very well fed older boys. And they ordered root beer shakes. And while we were waiting for the desserts, the boys polished off every last fry. And then slurped up every last drop of those rich, root-beery, ice-creamy shakes, still commenting on how full, how stuffed, they were, how delicious it all was, and how it was the 'best meal' they had ever had.
Our waiter was simply marvelous, allowing plenty of time for decisions but still being attentive, and he served the kids full-sized desserts, not 'kid' size. (And yes, I had something chocolately and yummy too.) He helped turn this family lunch outing into a very special event for all of us. 
We had such a great time that day, and I don't think those two boys will ever forget that meal. I don't think I will either.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Reverb 13: Day 13: Community and favorite things

1. The phrase “It takes a village” is often bandied about, in reference to child-rearing, running a business, just about everything. But if you’re anything like me, you may not be a natural born collaborator.

In 2014, how could you explore what community means to you?

It might be a question of sharing the load, asking for help or signing on someone with a complementary skill set. Or it could be about a creative collaboration that pushes you to explore new ideas and media.

Where might the alchemy be?

2. Favorite things | Give us a list of your favorite things from 2013.  Could be material items, food, people, anything!

1. I don't know that I am a natural collaborator although I certainly did and can work with others on a project. I am not good at asking for help, not necessarily because I think I can do it better, but because I don't want to inconvenience anyone. And yes, okay, sometimes I DO think I can do it better, or at the least, get it done when I want it done and how I want it done.  This is not an especially good trait, mind you. 
One of the humbling facts of aging is that there are times when we DO need help. While I'm still a very stubborn I-can-do-it-just-fine-thank-you-very-much kind of person, I am beginning to ask for help in some cases. Sometimes I want affirmation that my instincts are valid. Sometimes I want clarification or suggestions for direction. Sometimes I simply cannot do something and need a physical boost. I'm learning to ask.
I have expressed in these pages my desire to be part of a spiritual community, however, and there is an opportunity coming in January. If the mix of people and purpose is right -- and we won't know until we actually meet -- it could be the group I have been asking for, one that will explore creative community within a spiritual context. I want to approach this with an open, beginner's mind and see where it leads. And I am so grateful to be included in the initial stages!
2. Favorite things. I've already mentioned my favorite places: our great room lit by the minilights above the glowing woodstove, with Tony and the kitties all right there; and in our bed, also with kitties, every night. Any ocean beach is simply divine too. 
I love my heated mattress pad in the winter. I love organic cotton sheets on the bed, but I also love flannel sheets when it's cold. 
I love Alegria shoes, all of them. They perfectly support my arches and reconstructed foot, they are cute and funky and comfortable, with patterns or plain to suit my every mood and outfit.
I love  Amerileather patchwork purses. They make me smile.
Hot biscuits dripping with real butter and honey is pure comfort. 
I adore my husband. I am so grateful we are together in all things.
My favorite book was Anne Lamott's "Help, Thanks, Wow," which is enlightening and comforting when I'm beset with ice weasels. I read a lot of books this year and liked some of them very much, but this one speaks to my heart and soul.
I wear the same jewelry most of the time: rings, bracelets, all very meaningful to me. But I recently had made  a silver filigree sideways angel wing necklace with a pretty chain that reminds me I am constantly surrounded with light and love.  
I am grateful that I can see, hear, walk, speak, and understand, and that I am safe and loved, and that we have enough of everything. These are the best gifts of all. 


Thursday, December 12, 2013

Reverb13: Day 12. Jumping into truth?

1.I'm a big fan of muddy experiences. They become our greatest teachers when we're wise enough to exfoliate with them; roll around in the deep until we finally feel ready to get clean. 
Today, identify something muddy that kept recurring for you throughout 2013, and then ask yourself this: What's the clear truth underneath this damn mud if I finally wash myself clean?
2. Free writing | Write for five consecutive minutes on the word "jump" as it pertains to this past year.  No editing.  Set a timer.  Just write.

1. Two things became clear to me this year, after muddling about, mudding about with them for most of the year, probably more than that, actually.
When I regularly exercise, I feel stronger and more stable on my feet. We're not talking huge weight machines and stuff, just cycling and walking and doing leg lifts and stepups and balance work, and I like the whole body machine at the rehab gym too. I hate going to the gym. But I feel better when I do it and finally see the whole point. Now getting back on track is key here, and I'm still not doing that. So many excuses.

2. Jump. I don't jump much physically anymore although I did a little of it during my rehab sessions. I am, however, pretty good at jumping to conclusions, usually far more dire conclusions than reality actually turns out to be. I jumped to several of those this year where it concerns my daughter, partly because I hear only her perspective, usually on a day when she is really not doing well, or I don't hear from her at all and begin to picture really awful scenarios -- and lately, with what I know is true and from what she has told me, some of those scenarios might be far closer to the truth than I would like to believe. 
Controlling that imagination that is based on so little actual evidence is a huge challenge for me, and pretty much always has been. I do jump too readily to the worst case possibilities. I'd like to work on not jumping at all, just staying right where I am, in this moment, focusing on the breath, on my energy, on taking one moment at a time, since there is NOTHING I can change about anybody else's life. I can change what I do, however, and how high, how far, how frequently I jump. So for me, at this moment, it's 'left foot, right foot, left foot, BREATHE.' Not jump.

Reverb 13: Day 11. Challenges and failures

1. What challenges lie ahead in 2014? How might you meet them boldly?
2. FAIL | What just didn't work out this year?  Is that okay with you?  Or are you going to try, try again?

1. Who doesn't have challenges? The level of challenge depends on where you are in your own life -- what seems a big issue to one may look like a walk in the park to another. We lead a fairly drama-free, calm, good life, and our challenges sometimes take on a far more serious threat than they really are. I am grateful, GRATEFUL, for that, actually.
I expect the biggest challenge to center around my daughter and her issues, and how I react to them. What I want is to be loving and compassionate and kind, but not enabling or controlling. Learning to not give advice unless asked or sound angry and judgmental are my goals. Being squarely in the moment as I listen to her is another, and not projecting outcomes is another. 
Taking care of myself and inviting positive energy is essential to meeting these goals. Her path is hers; the only one I can directly affect is my own. I can do this by going back to the gym and participating in yoga and tai chi classes as much for the spirit as for the physicality of the exercise, and by continuing to cultivate mindfulness in every moment. And just loving myself, warts and all, and loving her without judging. Tall order, hm.
2. I don't think of any of the events of this past year as failures, even the ones that were and are hard and that may not be all I'd wish they were. There was progress in every instance, maybe not as much as I'd like to see, but progress nonetheless. Life is about change, learning to adapt to them, being willing to initiate change if a current path is getting you nowhere, and always evaluating your options. We always, always have options. 
As I grow and change and mature and adapt, my choices and options change as well. And we're never done with change and options as long as we are still breathing. Perhaps it sounds very Pollyanna-ish, but this story about choosing to be happy stuck with me.  Even at life's end we have options: I was with both my mother-in-law and my mother as they drew their last breath, and the difference in how each woman left her body was remarkable. My always-angry, passive-aggressive MIL left fighting, uneasily, although at the last moment she saw something transformational that she tracked with wide-open, clear eyes. My mother slipped peacefully away, not long after my brother arrived, and holding  our hands, calmly and quietly and lovingly. One last, long intake of breath, and then quiet.
I hope I will always try, try again to see my options and choices in whatever situations I find myself.  I hope I will always choose progress over paralyzing inaction. I hope I will choose the positive path.

Reverb 13, Day 10: Cultivating a life worth loving

1. Living life on auto-pilot can feel disorienting and dull. How did you cultivate a life worth loving during 2013?
How can you turn off your auto-pilot button in 2014?
2. Inspiration | What inspired you this year?  How do you think this will impact the year to come?

1.  Being mindful and present is hard work and not always a lot of fun. It means you are living right here, right now, with all the issues you may be encountering and the emotions they bring up. It is easier to escape for a bit, immersing yourself in endless games of "Candy Crush Saga" or "Bejeweled Blitz," or lurking on Facebook to see what is going on that is far more interesting than what is going on in your life. 
You can fritter away a lot of time this way. And then look back at the day and wonder where it went, that day of your life that you can never get back. The day you spent chasing stupid colored balls and squares, or following links to pictures of people doing stupid or funny things.
I've done my share of that this year. 
But this year I also have actively worked on creating positive energy within nearly every day. Well, at least often. I have deliberately taken days off when I am feeling overwhelmed to read books and magazines and newspapers, or to take a drive in the country with my honey, or to sit outside and pet kitties and marvel at the symmetry and beauty of nature and where we live, even on the hot days of summer . I have plowed through tasks, housekeeping-style things, like cleaning cupboards -- sometimes just one shelf a day -- or sorting through books that I no longer need or use, or tidying a drawer. Small things eventually reduce large tasks to something manageable, and help me feel as though I am moving forward.
Within those small tasks, though, is time to think, to be with my emotions and fears and issues, and not be overwhelmed by them. In that work, there is resolution as well. And getting out from underneath that constant list of to-dos is liberating, allowing me to do things that bring me happiness without the underlying feeling that I SHOULD be doing something more productive.
At least that works for me. More of that in 2014.

2. I addressed this with yesterday's post, Day 9. But there was one other person who inspired me: a woman who is a dynamo volunteer and business owner in our community, Jessie Woods. She is also a neighbor and a friend who helped me learn to create positive energy within myself, to look at what my gut tells me, and to move forward into positive action and thought.  Her lessons and therapies and loving concern helped me get through some big stuff with minimal fear, and gave me tools to sustain and nurture that energy within myself.  When this student was ready, that teacher was there, and I am so grateful.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Reverb 13: Day 9 -- Inspired surprises

1. Who inspired you in 2013? And why?
  What gifts did they give you? And how will you carry these forward in to 2014?

2. Surprise | What surprised you the most this year?

1. I was inspired most this year by the generosity of friends who brought food while I was convalescing from surgery, who called to see how I was, who visited or sent cards. It really made a difference that I had not expected at all.

My lesson in this was to find that kindness and caring in myself to respond to friends who are ill or convalescing or otherwise needing a boost -- and while I have done that a few times this year, it has not been consistent enough. I want to carry that resolve to help forward into 2014.

2. Not much really surprises me anymore, good or bad.

I confessI have been surprised by how nasty and evil people really can be as I've listened to tales about some of the people surrounding my daughter, but it's more of a despairing, horrified shocking surprise, really, to hear the stories of the squatters who have taken over her house, threatening her, stealing her phone and her car repeatedly. That she seems unable to extract herself from this situation is even more awful, and something I am powerless to do anything about.

I do not understand how someone can so deliberately take things that do not belong to them, deliberately injure or bully someone, and take what seems to be pleasure in doing so. I have never believed that people were truly bad to the core, but it appears I am wrong.

I will not be surprised when things get worse, unfortunately.

Monday, December 09, 2013

Reverb 13: Day 8 -- Good stuff and adventures

1. What went right in 2013?
Maybe you didn't quit smoking or lose those pounds or go to Paris, but something did work, did happen, and/or was realized. What was it?

2. Adventure | Did you go on an adventure in 2013?  What sort?

1.  Eh. See Day 7. I guess I sound like a broken record, but truly, recovering from surgery and letting go of a major pain-in-the-ass responsibility for my daughter's finances was HUGE.  With both of those gone (but not forgotten), I feel more freedom to actually do what I want to do. Or figure out just what it IS that I want to do. 

2. Actually, healing is a big adventure, especially allowing someone to take care of you to the extent I had to do, and there were blessings in that: I read a lot. I spent time simply BE-ing instead of always feeling like I should be DO-ing. I liked that, truthfully, and want more. 
We traveled more this year than we ever have, not necessarily far from home, but still away. In September we visited our daughter and grandchildren in Seattle, saw some long-ago friends and renewed that connection, camped with my cousin and his significant other on the Oregon coast, and spent more time campiing in some interesting places on the coast for nearly three weeks. The biggest problem with that adventure was not enough down time, which we remedied with 10 days in Marin County in a pretty wooded campground where we read and watched some television and spent days by the ocean and ate healthy food and talked and talked and slept and petted kitties. 
Taking the kitties camping with us was also an adventure, and we are lucky that they adapted beautifully. Turns out that as long as they're with us, they're happy boys, and as long as we're with them, we're much happier than when we left them either at home (with a caretaker looking after them twice a day) or in the 'spa' where poor McMurphy was labeled a 'biter' because he was so stressed out at being separated from us. Yes, they're spoiled. So?